Don’t Miss the Mark on Multicultural Marketing

Don’t Miss the Mark on Multicultural Marketing

By 2031, visible minorities in Canada are expected to account for one-third of the country’s population. While the growing diversity speaks to notable opportunity, many Canadian consumer packaged goods companies are failing to adjust the way they market to this new demographic and might be missing out on growth. In fact, findings from a recent Nielsen survey of North American manufacturers and retailers found that just over one-third (36%) don’t have objectives or goals tied to any particular ethnic group.

The Importance of Identifying and Understanding Your Ethnic Consumer

Forty five percent of the companies surveyed include multicultural marketing in their overall marketing plans, but without a full understanding of the ethnic consumer, these efforts might not have full impact.

“Though reaching ethnic consumers is very much on the minds of many companies, just over one-quarter have resources dedicated solely on these initiatives,” said Bernice Cheung, Ethnic Practice Area Lead at Nielsen. “Of those that dedicated budget for multicultural marketing, companies prioritized Chinese over South Asian Canadians.”

For marketers, the first step toward understanding and engaging ethnic consumers is learning about the different cultures of their audiences. Focus groups are currently the most popular research tool that companies use to support a multicultural strategy, followed by segmentation surveys, one-on-one interviews, and concept testing.

Websites and advertising offer marketers an important venue for reaching ethnic consumers but the Nielsen survey found many companies are missing the mark, by not creating website content dedicated to multicultural consumers. Companies also tended not to use other languages to reach ethnic consumers in social media. Ethnic consumers are often multilingual and ambicultural, but Nielsen research has shown the increased effectiveness of marketing to multicultural consumers in their own languages, using images and themes that are relevant to their cultural identity

So which languages should marketers pay most attention to? The four-fastest growing languages in Canada are Tagalog, Mandarin, Arabic and Hindi.


Successful multicultural initiatives require collaboration by manufacturers and retailers. Once companies determine a clear understanding of the ethnic consumer group they are interested in approaching, the next step is outreach. Some successful results include redesigning planograms in the international aisles, increasing the sale of required products during festive seasons, and tailoring items for a specific customer base.

Start Multicultural Marketing Success by Looking In

In addition to looking outside for guidance, many successful companies in this space are looking in. Having a workforce and leadership that reflects the community can often help organizations recognize and respond to opportunities. Surprisingly, however, most of the respondents in the recent survey didn’t know how many employees at the company belonged to a visible minority, and more than half reported having no visible minorities on their leadership teams. In one case, a retailer had made an effort to open 25 percent of its new stores in the last three years in multicultural locations, but had not hired bilingual staff for them.

For additional insights, download the full Ethnic Canadian report here.